I clocked it as a hoax as soon as it came in. We’ve been getting regular hoaxes from a male who gives various addresses around a dodgy council estate in the East End. He’s cleverer and more calculating than Banana Man – he never gives the same address twice, so we can’t simply tag the location as one we do not send to, he uses different mobile numbers and call boxes, so we can’t recognise him by the number, and he gives outlandish yet plausible diagnoses – “I’ve stabbed my wife”, “My girlfriend has overdosed and isn’t breathing” and, on this occasion, he told us he’d been shot, howled in pain, then dropped the phone as if passing out.
I knew it was going to be a hoax. But I couldn’t treat it any differently. I sent the only ambulance in the area that didn’t have a patient on board, which was on its way to a 60-year-old man who was having a suspected heart attack, and a manager from another sector, as ours was already on a job. (It is protocol to always send a manager to firearms calls.)
The crew and manager waited for fifteen minutes round the corner whilst the police checked out the location and found some confused, sleepy people who had definitely not been shot. Everyone was stood down, and the crew continued to the man with the suspected heart attack. Fortunately, the FRU had been able to deal with him in the meantime and his condition was stable. If things had worked out differently, our hoaxer really would have been a murderer.